In this World and the Next
The end of September sees my wedding anniversary come around again and I would like to dedicate 'In this World and the Next' to the woman who said 'yes' to me more than three decades ago.
The Final Chapter – Part 2
Harry sat amongst the large group in camp and had to concede he was right, his first Christmas in Australia was easily the best one of his life. It had nothing to do with gifts and everything about spending it with his family and friends. Hermione had privately jokingly hinted that she might get him a planner for Christmas, he was surprised however when she handed him an Australian newspaper carefully opened at a specific page. His green eyes flew wide open at the sight waiting on him there, his aunt and uncle were in Australia?
Both were clearly wearing handcuffs and accompanied by two rather large Australian policemen, it looked like the Dursleys may be staying in Australia for a while. The story proclaimed the British fraudsters had been living the high life while Vernon passed himself off as a prominent businessman from a well-to-do family. Their background has since been checked and it can now be revealed the husband is a mere salesman for a drill manufacturing company while the wife stays at home in their little box-like house in Surry.
The article went to great lengths painting them as stupid Poms who had a good thing going, claiming they won the cruise in a competition. The punch line was that they blew their own scam by trying to convince everyone they were high rollers and the entire house of cards came tumbling down. The reporter hoped they would enjoy their new accommodation and once more highlighted their stupidity, claiming a ten thousand pound bar bill was something even an Australian would struggle to match.
Harry looked deeply into his wife's eyes and she stared right back at him, answering his unasked question. "I gave them a chance Harry, that's more than they ever gave you. They could have sat back and enjoyed the holiday of a lifetime but no, that's not the Dursley way. They have such an inbuilt need to feel superior to others that they treated you like a servant and locked you in a cupboard for ten years. You can just picture them, sitting at the captain's table and showing off by ordering champagne for everyone from the waiters. Their greed triggered the spells to change all the documents back to their original forms. This year you won't be sitting looking through the cupboard door slats watching them eat the Christmas dinner you helped cook, they'll be the ones behind bars. Meanwhile, we'll be enjoying a wonderful meal with our family and friends!" The tears were beginning to make their way down Hermione's cheeks now as her emotions were running high. "No one locks my love in a cupboard and gets away with it, they deserve this and more. I hit their pride and finances, I really wanted to see them thrown overboard in the middle of the Pacific but I can live with this result."
He could sense she was worried about his reaction so Harry wrapped his wife in his arms, he'd put the Dursleys completely out of his mind but Hermione clearly hadn't forgotten about them. He kissed her cheek and used this closeness to whisper in her ear. "Thank you love, that was a marauder worthy prank. Can I assume that article will appear in every paper in Surry?"
Hermione held him tight and just gave a slight nod, she had been so afraid Harry would be angry with her. She felt his breath as he once more whispered in her ear, "If you're satisfied with the outcome then that wipes the slate clean. All that's left now is the happy ever after bit, as long as you're with me it will be!"
All around them, the camp occupants were reaffirming their opinion that you never piss off a Potter. All had heard snippets about Harry's life before coming to Hogwarts, there was no sympathy for the Dursleys in this group. It was the twins though who put the camp's feelings into words, in their own inimitable fashion of course.
"Hey guys, you going soft in your old age?"
"Yeah, wasn't there a handy tower you could dangle them from?"
"Aw George, that's not fair. They're not even teenagers yet and you would have them settling into a rut already. These two are more imaginative than that."
"Naw Fred, I'm still mad that Draco was cut down before I got to see him dangle, I don't want to miss the next one."
It was Harry who answered, "Well George, if we were still at Hogwarts I could do my best to arrange you getting a bird's eye view of the next one. That is if you really want to?"
George actually fell off the bench he'd been sitting on in his haste to assure Harry that was not necessary. This was met with roars of laughter, especially from those who the twins had played pranks upon.
The laughter was broken by Andi, "Oh Dear, with all the excitement of the wedding I forgot all about Draco. Guess I won't be meeting him during the holidays after all." This was the last time his name was mentioned as everyone want back to enjoying themselves, even Pansy never thought about the blond Slytherin again for the rest of the holiday.
Draco was currently lying in bed, unable to sleep. This was hardly an unusual occurrence for youngsters the world over as Christmas beckoned. What was unusual though is that it wasn't excitement that was keeping the boy awake, Draco No-Name had simply nothing to get excited about. The Australian buzz in Hogwarts had only been overshadowed once in the last few weeks, straight after Professor Lupin had announced he was going to marry the pink haired auror. That this auror was the daughter of the woman he was looking forward to meeting over the holidays almost certainly meant Draco was heading for another disappointment.
If the Potters had arranged for all their friends to be in Australia, it was a given that the parents of the bride were going to be flown out there too. With Sirius Black also getting married, the chances of Draco being accepted into any of those families was dwindling fast. There would probably be little Blacks and Lupins running around soon. Andromeda Tonks would then be a grandmother and an aunt, she wouldn't want him hanging around as a reminder that both her sisters were staying an Azkaban.
Anyway Draco figured it, he could see no other future for himself but the orphanage. With no name, family, bloodline or gold, he was all out of options. That was enough to stop anyone sleeping and seriously diminished his Christmas spirit.
Albus was ecstatic, right in front of him were the trunks he had the foresight to place tracking charms on way back in the school term. His portkey had been worth all that effort, it had done its job exactly as it was designed to. The trunks sitting squarely at the bottom of the four-poster beds tripped some internal alarms for Albus and, as his elation started to fade, he soon began to realise what was so very wrong with this scene. The trunks were exactly where they had been when he placed the tracking charms on them, sitting at the bottom of the children's beds in their Gryffindor dormitory. How could this be? He was supposed to be in Australia, not Scotland. How could they possibly go on holiday without taking their trunks?
His special portkey was only charged for a one way trip and Albus knew better than most he needed to get outside the wards before he could escape by apparition. He badly needed time to figure out how his plan had been foiled. Since Albus was no longer the current headmaster of Hogwarts, the castle wouldn't allow portkeys made by him to pass through the wards. Another special portkey was also out of the question, he had neither the time nor the energy required to create one.
Albus was also aware that his unauthorised entry through the wards would have triggered an alarm with whoever had been left in charge of the school, the portraits, ghosts and house elves could already be looking for him. Albus needed to get out of here but, as he passed through the portrait hole, he was reluctant to leave the castle. Fleeing Hogwarts with his tail between his legs undeniably alluded to him being wrong about something, his deteriorating mental condition refused to accept that as a viable outcome.
He began to wander aimlessly around the castle corridors, trying to avoid being detected while attempting to solve the problem of why those trunks weren't in Australia. Noticing the corridor he was currently passing through had no portraits, just a tapestry with some wizard trying to teach tolls to dance, Albus decided to stay around here for now. He wished his problem was as easy to solve as the wizard's in the tapestry. Compared to discovering how people could travel half way around the world and leave their trunks at home, teaching trolls to tours en l'air would be a doddle! Albus walked up and down this somewhat safe corridor as he considered the mess he was in, all his mind could concentrate on though was his need to kill Harry Potter.
Albus must have been really distracted, he'd walked up and down here at least three times and never noticed the large oak door. On opening it, the answer to his problem became glaringly obvious. The trunks weren't in Australia because their owners weren't in Australia. Voldemort had faked his own death to disguise his possession of Harry Potter, a fake holiday would be easy to contrive compared to that. The reason for Dumbledore's absolute certainty for a seemingly unlikely conclusion was right in front of him, namely one Harry James Potter.
The room he now cautiously entered was enormous and appeared to be constructed from great slabs of granite. About twenty meters in front of Albus was a circular raised platform. Sitting exactly in the centre of this platform was a chair that more resembled a throne, it was currently occupied by a frowning Harry Potter.
"Hello old man, I should have known you would be the one to figure this out."
Albus couldn't contain his grin, "Hello Tom."
The boy's eyes flashed red as he growled, "Don't call me by that disgusting name, I am Lord Voldemort."
This confirmed all Dumbledore's suspicions, an admission straight from the boy's mouth. "I know Tom and that is why it must end it here today."
At hearing that hated name again, the boy sprang to his feet. Harry's wand was out and a green beam was heading toward Albus before he had time to blink, far less react. Only Fawkes flashing to his aid and swallowing the killing curse saved the old wizard's life. Albus didn't have time to scoop his brave, now small featherless friend up at the moment, he was too busy trying to stay alive.
Tom was relentless as curse upon curse rained down on Albus, each one darker and more powerful than the last. Albus was calling on all his experience and power yet still barely holding his own against the boy. The room being constructed from granite blocks was probably the only reason it was still standing instead of coming crashing down on them from the amount of magic on display, even the air they breathed appeared magically charged as the two most powerful wizards in the country fought for their lives. The throne that had been present when Albus first entered the room was now reduced to nothing more than kindling and ash. As the battle raged on, it soon became clear that Tom had the upper hand. Albus had a few close brushes with death and began to fear he had bitten off more than he could chew. It appeared Voldemort wasn't going to settle for just killing Albus, he wanted to prove once and for all who the greatest wizard in the world was by slowly taking Dumbledore apart. Tom Riddle though was becoming overconfident.
Albus was currently struggling to defend himself against a large dragon that appeared to be constructed from fiendfyre while Tom's laughter reverberated off the now heavily scorched and scarred walls.
"You've finally met your match old man. Even in this child's body, Lord Voldemort is far too powerful for you."
As Albus dodged the dragon's fiery tail, he was forced to conceded Tom was right about one thing. After draining his power to make that bloody portkey, the boy was indeed more powerful than he was. The now exhausted old wizard noticed something else though, while Tom was taking the time to taunt him, Riddle's guard was down for a moment. Understanding this might be the only chance he would be offered, Albus used his flame whip spell. A coil of brilliant white light shot out the end of his wand and sliced through the dragon's wing before, with a flick of the wrist from Albus, it abruptly changed direction and caught Harry neatly on the shoulder.
Voldemort's right arm came off so quickly and cleanly, his wand was still clutched in his dismembered hand when it smacked the stone floor. With the breaking of the spell, Voldemort's flaming dragon disappeared in a puff of smoke and left behind a one armed eleven-year-old boy sitting whimpering in pain on the edge of the raised platform.
The green eyes were beseeching Albus as he walked toward the wounded boy. "Professor Dumbledore, you did it sir! You banished Voldemort for good. He's gone sir, there's only me, Harry, in here now."
Dumbledore's eyes had their twinkle back again. "Nice try Tom, but that is exactly what I would expect you to attempt. For the greater good of the entire world, this time you have to die for real."
The boy's eyes flashed red once more, "Curse you Dumbledore, I told you never to call me by that name again. I killed all the Riddles before I left Hogwarts as a student."
"You're wrong Tom, there's one left and the sad duty of ending that line falls to me. Goodbye Tom Riddle."
"No sir! Wait, it really is me. Surely you wouldn't kill a defenceless boy? You have to believe me..."
The green light that hit the young body silenced the begging and ended the reign of terror that Lord Voldemort had not only instigated but orchestrated with such deadly efficiency. It also killed the body that once belonged to young Harry James Potter and for that Albus was truly sorry. He could only hope that if he met James and Lily on his next great adventure, they could find it in their hearts to forgive him.
He recovered the now baby Fawkes from the ashes that the killing curse had buried him under, with his friend nestled safely in his pocket Albus left the room without a backward glance at the child's lifeless body. He got less than half-way down the corridor though before an expelliarmus hit him squarely in the chest and robbed him of his wand. The old wizard was exhausted with nothing really left to fight for, Albus offered no resistance and just let it happen. Amelia Bones and a dozen aurors now had their wands trained on him from both ends of the corridor, there was nowhere for him to go and nothing left for him to do anyway.
"I'll come quietly Amelia, it's finally over. The dark lord possessed Harry Potter but I managed to defeat him. I'm sorrier than I can say that there was no way to save the boy, for the greater good he had to die. You'll find the body behind that door."
Amelia wasn't alone in feeling an icy shiver of fear run down her spine at those words. The only reason the old fool was still standing there and not already blasted into little pieces was the glaring misconceptions in his statement. Having given permission for Susan to spend the holidays with the Potters and arranged the auror escort for the entire party, Amelia was certain Lord Potter wasn't within ten thousand miles of Hogwarts. There was also the fact that where Dumbledore indicated the boy's body lay contained nothing but a solid stone wall without a door anywhere in sight.
His next statement settled her nerves and destroyed the doubts anyone had, especially when Dumbledore held out his clearly empty hands. "Amelia, could I impose on you to take care of Fawkes? Just until he grows strong enough to look after himself once more, he's been a faithful friend and I would be most grateful to you."
Amelia made a great pretence of carefully taking the nonexistent phoenix from the old wizard. She was sure her entire team were sharing the same type of thoughts as their boss, Albus Dumbledore was as crazy as a shithouse rat!
The head of the DMLE was a pro though, as six of her aurors were dispatched to escort the disarmed Dumbledore straight into a heavily guarded holding cell at the ministry, the other six were scouring the castle for any sign of a body. Amelia was certain they wouldn't find Lord Potter's body inside Hogwarts, just as she was certain Dumbledore's future would be spent in a secure room at St Mungo's that had extensive use of cushioning charms on the walls and floor.
Among other things, Harry and Hermione had received bright red quad bikes for Christmas. These had seating for two and came with the extra crash helmets needed for their passengers. The rest of the morning was then spent zooming up and down the beach, giving their friends rides until they felt confident enough to have a go themselves. Neville took to it like a duck to water, Millie snuggled behind him with her arms wrapped around his chest might have helped slightly. Oliver was not one to miss an opportunity and was soon repeating this feat with Penelope hanging on for dear life behind him. Luna though was downright scary at the controls and seemed to instinctively push the machine to its limits, only Harry and Hermione were brave enough to climb on behind her.
The camp now had a table resembling one of those from the Hogwarts great hall in place of the picnic benches. It was currently straining under the weight of the food dobby had placed on it. Harry was mesmerized by the size of the turkeys, they were so large Harry began to fear that the local emu population might be missing a few of its number. Crackers were being pulled, silly hats were being worn before Harry stopped speaking mid-sentence and pulled something out the bag that was by his side.
"Oh no, I forgot they were in a different time zone. Ginny, this is for you!"
Arthur had all Ginny's photographs spread before him, he'd been staring at them for hours like a starving man sat down to a feast. His eyes just didn't know where they should be looking as the pictures were all so good. It wasn't the muggleness of them that fascinated Arthur, Ginny's smiling face beaming out from every single one was a sight his tired old eyes couldn't get enough of. He was forced from his musings by an owl delivering a small parcel addressed to him, a quick round of headshakes told Arthur that neither his wife nor two eldest sons knew anything about it.
It was a mirror and the note attached simply said 'speak your daughter's name'. Arthur shrugged and gave it a go, "Ronnie? Ronda? Ginny?" On saying Ginny, the mirror went black but he could hear muffled voices. It was about twenty seconds later when the other one was clearly being unwrapped that Arthur saw the surprised face of his youngest daughter appear in front of him.
"Dad? Oh this is wonderful, Merry Christmas!"
Arthur had the beginning of tears in his eyes as his daughters face was replaced by those of Fred and George while the rest of the Weasleys crowded around the mirror Arthur was holding to see what was happening.
"Hey everyone, Merry Christmas."
"Yeah, same from me. Gin will be back in a moment, she's currently in floods of tears and hugging Harry and Hermione."
Fred noticed there was someone missing but didn't want to alert everyone at the Australian end to something they considered Weasley family business. "Where's Ronnie?"
Molly was also in tears at being able to talk with her children on Christmas Day, she was still aware enough though not to let anything slip. "The potions Ronnie has to take mean there are good days and bad days, we're just unfortunate this is a bad day. I'll pass on your good wishes."
It was Bill who asked the next question, "What in the name of Merlin are these things?"
George had a wide grin on his face, "I think the only words to describe them are bloody amazing. Harry's father and his friends invented them though he and Hermione have been working to improve them."
Fred was nodding his head in agreement, "Harry just gave Ginny one as part of her Christmas present, they must have sent you its partner."
The twins were elbowed out the mirror as Ginny had now returned, "Hey everyone, I see Charlie is there, did you like my pictures dad?"
Arthur's tears escaped to streak down his face at the thoughtfulness of the young couple who had made talking to his daughter possible. "I love the pictures Ginny and you seem to be enjoying yourself. You're smiling in every single picture, I've never seen you look so happy."
"Oh dad, it's been wonderful, even with the twins here!" This led to some shouts of indignation and laughter from around her. "We've got a double wedding to look forward to tomorrow and then the next day we're spending aboard a pirate ship and looking for dolphins out on the ocean." Someone said something to her and Ginny nodded in agreement. "Dad, I've got to go but we can call each other anytime now. We're actually sitting eating Christmas dinner in the sunshine at the moment, Harry forgot you were two hours ahead of Britain when he sent these out. Have a Merry Christmas and we'll talk to you later today."
As Ginny's image faded from the mirror, Arthur's gaze returned to those wonderful photographs. Lord and Lady Potter had done so much for Ginny and now the twins were with her for the holidays, it was a mystery to Arthur how Ronnie could have taken such a dislike to the young couple. One thing was for certain, not a word would be spoken against the Potters while he was head of house Weasley. Thankfully his wife appeared to have finally got that message.
With Harry's surprise now blown, he handed out the rest of the mirrors though warned everyone not to activate them. The mirrors vibrated when called and they might scare the owls who would currently be delivering them, they would survive being dropped but a lost mirror might as well be a broken mirror. The sun was going down as the screen was going up when the mirrors began to go off.
Luna was of course sitting next to Harry with her father on her other side, Harry put his arm around her shoulders. "You didn't get a mirror today because your father is sitting next to you, there will be one waiting for you Luna before you leave. Trust me when I say we will be keeping in touch with you. You're our best friend and we don't want you to forget that..."
Harry was interrupted by Susan, "Harry, my aunt really needs to speak with you. She says it's very, very urgent."
Harry took the offered mirror to see the monocle wearing head of the DMLE smiling at him. "Lord Potter I'm extremely relieved to see you're not only alive but looking very healthy."
Harry hadn't noticed that all conversation around the camp had died as everyone struggled to listen in to this conversation. Hermione was on his other side and was currently signalling for her dad to leave the projector and get his backside over here. "Madam Bones, you have me at a disadvantage. I have no idea what you are talking about."
Amelia took a deep breath before beginning, "Last night, Albus Dumbledore broke into Hogwarts. We apprehended him in a corridor where he claimed to have just defeated you in a battle to the death. He indicated your body was in a room behind him but none of us could find it. While certain he was mistaken, it's still a relief to have it confirmed by speaking with you."
Hermione was first to see the possibilities and asked the appropriate question, "Madam Bones, did you catch Dumbledore on the seventh floor? Beside a particularly ugly tapestry of dancing trolls?"
Amelia Bones was shocked, something that was not easily done. "Lady Potter, how could you possibly know that?"
The two Potters were running the possible scenario through their heads, unfortunately they were talking out loud at the same time.
"The room would show him exactly what he wanted to see."
"An epic battle with him as the victor."
"All his ideas proven right."
"The name of Albus Dumbledore once more revered."
The Weasley twins once more broke the resulting awkward silence, "Do you ever get the feeling we've been superseded Fred?"
"George, we've been outclassed since the minute those two walked into Hogwarts."
Remus joined the conversation, "Don't take it to heart boys, we thought our group was pretty hot and I don't know anything about this mysterious room either. How the hell did you two discover in a matter of weeks something the marauders didn't in seven years?"
Harry realised everyone in their Australian party was now waiting on an answer as much as Madam Bones was back in Britain. "Well Moony, perhaps if you'd let my mum join you guys, you might have fond it. Apart from my brilliant wife's assistance, we also had a rather pressing incentive for scouring the castle for its secrets. We were searching for Voldemort's horcruxes, we discovered he'd hidden Ravenclaw's diadem in what's known as the room of requirements."
Hermione took over seamlessly, "The room of requirements becomes whatever you need it to be, the diadem was hidden in a massive store room with century's worth of junk cluttering almost every inch of it. It can just as easily become an exact copy of your bedroom back home if that's what you want."
Harry nodded in agreement with his wife, "If Dumbledore entered there thinking that he needed to kill me, then the room would accommodate him. He will really believe he killed me but why was he in Hogwarts in the first place?"
Amelia had the answer to that, "He'd placed tracking charms on your Gryffindor friends' trunks, had you not provided them with holdalls for travelling they would have led Dumbledore right to your home."
Harry smiled and winked conspiratorially toward Luna, knowing that was their friend's biggest fear. "Madam Bones, no one takes heavy trunks as luggage on an airplane but the protections around this house would cancel any tracking charms the instant they passed through the wards. There is also a very good reason we travel everywhere by car. In the extremely unlikely event that someone managed to get a fix on this position, our wards redirect attempted portkeys or apparition to the most shark infested bit of ocean the goblins could find. The goblins informed me that should anyone be unfortunate enough to splash down in that spot, their chances of dying from drowning are practically nonexistent."
Dan's face appeared between those of his children, "Excuse me for butting-in Madam Bones but I'm more interested in what happened to Dumbledore?"
"After Dumbledore told his story, he asked me to take care of phoenix that only he could see. We have him locked in a secure room at St Mungo's and he'll never leave it again, our healers have already diagnosed his mental state as poor and degenerating rapidly. In layman's terms, he's nuttier than a fruitcake! We have him isolated and the healers have convinced him to write down his memoirs so our society will forever know how great Albus Dumbledore actually was. He's happily writing away to preserve his image for posterity, Cornelius has only read the beginning and already wants to see the crazy old coot introduced to a dementor for some of the things he's done."
Dan wanted to make sure there were no mistakes, "I want to be sure we understand each other here Madam Bones, Dumbledore will never be a threat to my children again?"
Amelia nodded, "He's locked in a secure room and will be there until he dies. Our healers speculated that he had been ill for a while but there had been a severe acceleration of his condition recently. Based on their estimates, we reckon he'll not remember his own name, far less Hogwarts by September next year. It is now safe for your children to return to Hogwarts if they wish to do so. I would ask that you keep his worsening mental state quiet for now, we want to get as much information out of him as possible without this situation being blazed all over the Prophet."
Harry could only shake his head, "I'm sorry Madam Bones but I don't think that's going to happen, everyone here heard every word we've said and most of them had their mirrors open as they were speaking to their family back in Britain when you called. I'll hand you back to Susan now as Hermione and me need to go speak with our parents and Sirius, thanks for letting us know so quickly."
Harry handed the mirror back to Susan as he and Hermione led Dan, Emma and Sirius back into the house, everyone left outside was very interested in the outcome of that talk.
Charity was sitting next to her headmistress, "How are you feeling Minerva? I know you've been close to Albus for many years."
Minerva analysed her feelings carefully before answering, "I'm feeling mostly relief, relief that he's been caught before he could do any harm and actually relief that he's ill. The thought of him being sane and doing the things he did would mean he'd conned us all for many years."
Charity understood immediately, "Yes, we can at least remember the good things he did before he was ill. Minerva, we need to talk to the Potters about this room. If it can do what the Potters claim, just think what it could achieve for muggle studies! We could introduce our students to a muggle environment with total control over the situation and no financial cost to Hogwarts. I know we both want to continue the trips but, without the Potters financing them, we are going to have to settle for what Hogwarts can afford. This room could give us unlimited possibilities."
The thought of her students being able to go muggle shopping or watch these wonderful films without leaving Hogwarts had the headmistresses' eyes sparkling. Her list just grew greatly in length, top of that list though was talk to the Potters.
They had been gone for less than ten minutes but already Luna was finding it difficult to remain sitting, she'd become used to having friends and could never go back to the way she was before. Talking through the mirrors was ok to keep in touch but that was the one thing they lacked, touch! A mirror couldn't put its arm around you if you needed a hug, Luna hadn't had this many hugs since her mother died and dreaded the thought of not seeing Harry and Hermione until the summer. Being here with everyone and her father was wonderful, flying back to Britain without the Potters and Grangers would break her heart.
The five walked back out, their faces giving nothing away, it was Harry who spoke. "Headmistress McGonagall, is our old room still available?"
Luna was like a champagne cork leaving the bottle as she shot straight into both Potters arms, this was also the signal for the celebrations to begin. Not one person heard if McGonagall answered Harry, they were all too busy cheering, whistling and shouting. Oliver had Penelope hoisted up in the air as if practicing for raising the house Quiddich cup that would soon be clad in Gryffindor colours. Neville and Millie were dancing for joy on top of the table, now thankfully free of food.
Dan could tell there would be no movie watched tonight, these kids were more interested in the wonderful wizard and witch who would be leaving Oz and flying back to Britain with them. They were in the mood for a party tonight. Their family discussion inside the house didn't really amount to much, both Harry and Hermione were desperate to return with their friends. Most of their time had been spent wondering if they could celebrate with a glass of champagne for everyone, Emma had been the hardest to convince but had finally conceded that one glass wouldn't do the children any harm. Dobby made sure everyone had a glass as Dan proposed a toast, 'There's no place like home' was something they could all agree on. With singing and dancing soon taking place as the party got into top gear, the general opinion was that Oz was a pretty cool place to be too.
Harry stood beside a nervous Sirius and Remus while three beautiful girls made their way toward them. The Double wedding was being held outdoors with Minerva, Andi, Carol and Emma all having their hankies out already. The three mothers had worked tirelessly to ensure everything went perfectly today, no detail was too small and that included the rose petal covered aisle the two brides-to-be were currently making their way down. Tonks and Hestia's dresses sparkled in the natural light, almost outshone by the smiles they and their proud fathers were wearing. All this was wasted on Harry though, his eyes only saw one person. He'd known his wife was beautiful since another Christmas when she had, in his unbiased opinion, outshone a veela. That night had nothing on today, probably because she was his Hermione now and he was the one waiting on her.
As she walked behind the brides, Harry silently swore Hermione would have her day in the spotlight. Dan would get his chance to walk his only daughter down the aisle, Emma and Hermione would have the opportunity to plan everything to the n'th degree and McGonagall would still be crying tears of joy. By that time their friends would all be so comfortable in the muggle world, they would have no worries about holding the wedding in a church. There might even be a few Blacks and Lupin pups to add to the guest list by then. Harry didn't think he would have any difficulty convincing his wife and family to hold this event on his seventeenth birthday, he could already picture their Devon home decorated for a wedding reception in July.
Harry had no idea what the British wizarding community would be like by then but the sorting hat did say their work had only just begun with the defeat of Voldemort in the last timeline. There were a few certainties he could count on though, Neville would be his best man while Luna would be Hermione's bridesmaid. The biggest certainty of them all was that Hermione would always be by his side, in this world and the next.
A nudge in the ribs by his godfather may have brought him back to the present but nothing was going to wipe the grin off his face today, not even the prospect of making the dreaded best man speeches!
A/N Thanks for Reading